Why You Should Not Use the Instagram Follow-Unfollow Trick

why you need to stop the Instagram follow-unfollow trick

The number of Instagram accounts that don’t use artificial growth tools has significantly decreased in recent years. Still, there are many articles on the internet that recommend growing your audience by using the follow unfollow method. You can either do this manually — a rather time-consuming task — or use third-party software. These apps claim that you can grow your audience quickly and safely with their technique.

But is it worth using this trick for expanding your audience? How many followers will you gain and what can be the consequences of this gray hat approach? Read on and we’ll reveal everything you need to know about the Instagram follow and unfollow method. 

How Do You Follow and Unfollow on Instagram?

The procedure is exactly what its name implies. You find and follow a bunch of accounts presumably in your niche. They receive a notification, look at your profile, and probably will follow back — if not because of your content then out of courtesy. A few days or a week later you unfollow these accounts. And voilá, you got several hundred IG users within a few weeks and they hopefully don’t realize you unfollowed them.

As we mentioned earlier, you can either find Instagram users in your topic by searching for them manually or you can use specific tools for this. Thousands of apps promise to find you devoted fans taking into consideration your niche, account age and presumed follow-unfollow limits. These third-party solutions can search for users by hashtags, geotags, or find similar influencers whose audience would be ideal for you as well.

Why do people use Instagram Growth tools?

It is still a common misconception that the more followers you have, the more believable creator or more popular you are. The chances of your content being discovered by a brand will grow if you have a bigger audience. That is what many budding content creators think.

percentage of Instagram influencers who use the follow/unfollow methodPercentage of Instagram influencers who use the follow/unfollow method

It’s no wonder, that mainly nano- and micro-influencers use the follow unfollow Instagram method to grow the number of their followers. On top of that, unfollowing those users later will result in a good follower-to-following ratio. Sounds great, right?

Well, not exactly.

Why Following and Unfollowing Instagram Accounts Don’t Work in 2022

If you are thinking of using this hack, here are our 5 tips on why you should avoid it:

1. You violate Community Guidelines and Terms of Use

Over the years Instagram introduced stricter and stricter rules to fight those who used various hacks to boost their accounts. This is laid out in their Terms of Use:

Instagram's Terms of Use on automation tools

And in their Community Guidelines:

Instagram's Community Guidelines on automation tools

The platform’s algorithms can detect artificial Instagram growth generated by bots and third-party tools. If this happens they action block your account for a few hours or days. If they catch you applying the follow unfollow Instagram method frequently they might delete your Instagram account.

2. Your reputation is at risk

Mass following and then unfollowing people on Instagram is the worst practice to boost your audience. If you start following many users, the majority of them will likely follow you back out of politeness. Only to find out a few days later that you unfollowed them. You will be considered superficial, someone who only cares for quantity over quality.

an example of massfollowing in HypeAuditor's following graph

Massfollowing patterns displayed in an influencer’s report in HypeAuditor’s Account Analytics

Utilizing the follow and unfollow method on Instagram is very annoying and you risk your credibility for a couple of more users. If you are building your business on Instagram you need to connect with your audience. They could be your future customers so don’t treat them like another number added to your follower list. 

3. You attract the wrong audience

The follow and unfollow Instagram method can even backfire on you. You can acquire more users by using third-party methods to find your future followers through hashtags. However, hashtag usage is no proof of gaining a dedicated audience.

People sometimes use certain hashtags in the heat of the moment and then they forget about them. No matter how good content you will create, these people will never be genuinely interested in it and will unfollow you after a short time.

Find and follow accounts in your niche and interest and comment on and like their posts. You can win several new followers this way. Engage with influencers’ content whom you think could be interested to connect with you.

4. The engagement rate will drop

The exasperating consequence of the Instagram follow unfollow method is that your engagement rate lowers. If you have an authentic audience they will like, comment on, and share your content. Mass following random people who followed you back will likely be disinterested in your posts. Following and unfollowing on Instagram will raise your audience by several hundred within a few weeks but your engagement rate will proportionally decrease.

engagement rate history on HypeAuditor

Due to many fake followers and bots the engagement rate can drastically go down

Avoid using gray hat techniques like the follow/unfollow Instagram method. Spend your time producing captivating content instead of following people and then unfollowing them. Make sure to keep your audience genuine so that your engagement rate stays higher. 

5. Your account can become invisible

Another reason why you should keep away from any follow unfollow Instagram method is that your account becomes buried. Influencers with a lower number of followers experience that their engagement goes down after using the Instagram follow unfollow strategy. An artificially inflated poor-quality audience will generate fewer comments and likes. Your Instagram account won’t appear on the explore page, and you won’t rank on hashtags.

Very soon you will start losing followers because your account will become invisible to them. Or because they were using the follow unfollow practice likewise. And you can’t stop this decline even if you post more or better content.

How can you detect influencers who mass follow and unfollow on Instagram?

Check influencer’s Followers and Following graphs in HypeAuditor’s Account Analytics. Sudden spikes in the creator’s Follower graph mean that they grew their audience artificially. If the Following graph shows abrupt spikes and drops the influencer mass followed other IG accounts and then unfollowed them. Watch out for influencers whose follower count is much higher than their following count and starts from 1500 followings.

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Protect your Instagram Account from Mass Followers 

As a creator, make sure you have a high-quality and devoted audience because they will engage with your posts. People who use the follow unfollow Instagram trick affect negatively your engagement and reach.

Check your audience quality regularly for mass followers. They can be real people who follow you to boost their audience fast and then unfollow you. Or they can be bots that people use to automate commenting, following, and unfollowing.

Protect your account from low-quality users and being blocked by using our tips:

Be careful with your hashtag usage

Some automaton tools use hashtags for finding and accumulating followers. People who use these types of software to expand their followers’ numbers will use generic hashtags, such as #beauty, #fashion, and #style. And they follow accounts that utilize these hashtags in hopes that they follow them back. 

hashtag search on Instagram

Over 1 billion posts contain #fashion on Instagram. Use more distinct hashtags!

According to our study, the number of influencers who post on Instagram about ‘beauty’ increased by 63% in the last year. So, if you create content on a popular topic like ‘beauty’ you want to avoid getting mass followers. The easiest way is to use narrow and specific hashtags, like #facemakeover, #weddingmakeup, etc.

How many people can you follow on Instagram a day?

There is no official limit set on Instagram’s part on how many people you can follow a day. And yes, sometimes you find a lot of creators with interesting content and you start following them. However, if you follow too many a day, Instagram will action block you. To avoid this, we recommend you to stay between 100-150 accounts per day and under 20 per hour. If your Instagram account is a few months old then stay under 100.

Constantly check your audience's quality

Regularly examine the Audience Types chart in your HypeAuditor account. The Audience Types chart will let you know how big is your real audience (real people and influencers). And you will see the percentage of mass followers and suspicious accounts that follow you as well.

check the audience quality

Comparison of two influencers' audience

Scan through your list of new followers and block those whose followings number is over 1500. Get rid of those whose content is not relevant to your interest and niche. If you clear your audience regularly, the number of mass followers and suspicious profiles will decrease. 

How many people can you unfollow on Instagram?

Again, Instagram doesn’t state the critical number but it is a good practice if you stay under 150 a day. If you have a relatively new account then unfollow no more than 100 accounts per day. Why is it important to keep these numbers in mind? Because if you regularly check your audience and want to get rid of mass or ghost followers then you need to be aware of this number.

Final Thoughts

No matter what they promise, the follow and unfollow Instagram trick will not bring you long-term success. It will ruin your reputation, your engagement rate, your reach, and the quality of your audience. Businesses team up with influencers whose expertise is valued by their genuine followers. If you want to work with a brand you should focus on building and connecting with a dedicated audience.

Want to partner with influencers who will be right for your brand?
Find the best creators with HypeAuditor Influencer Discovery and its 78.3M+ account database.
Anna is the Head of Marketing and PR at HypeAuditor, the most accurate and in-depth Instagram and YouTube analytics tool on the market. She is passionate about influencer marketing and Instagram analytics.
Topics:Instagram Growing and managing your audience
November 15, 2018
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Anna is the Head of Marketing and PR at HypeAuditor, the most accurate and in-depth Instagram and YouTube analytics tool on the market. She is passionate about influencer marketing and Instagram analytics.
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Want to partner with influencers who will be right for your brand?
Find the best creators with HypeAuditor Influencer Discovery and its 78.3M+ account database.